Library Leaves Blog
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Library Leaves is published online by the staff of the Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library. In keeping with our mission to educate, support the study of the Arboretum and living collections, and share botanical knowledge, this blog will offer a closer look at our unique collections, upcoming events, and ongoing projects. Keep reading and continue to visit us online and in person! Follow us on Twitter, @AAhortlib.

Dawson medals come to the Arboretum Archives

May 18, 2015 by Library Staff

Channing Dawson and Ned Friedman

Descendants of Jackson Thornton Dawson, the first Plant Propagator of the Arboretum, visited to present two horticultural medals awarded to Jackson to the Arboretum Archives.  more »

Meet Joseph Rock in our Visitor Center

April 7, 2015 by Library Staff

Joseph Rock on horseback

While traveling into the Kansu Providence in northwestern China, Rock came upon the Tibetan principality of Choni. Choni was a prosperous monastic community with hundreds of monks and families set in a mountainous, fertile land.  more »

A Naturalist in western China

February 20, 2015 by Library Staff


The beauty of these books is present because they don’t strictly adhere to the scientific method, yet neither do they provide farcical or strained vignettes. Instead, they belong to a fantastic and original “hybrid genre,” combining Wilson’s analytic genius and artistic know-how into a good read for anybody interested in the crossroads of art and science.  more »

A close call with Asian Longhorned Beetle

January 29, 2015 by Library Staff

American Forests

Six maples at Faulkner Hospital were infested with Asian longhorned beetle. The Arboretum had obvious cause for concern as a wide variety of its remarkable trees stood in the crosshairs of this destructive pest.  more »

Portrait of a 125-Year Friendship

December 2, 2014 by Library Staff


The Cambridge Plant & Garden Club is the longest active women’s garden club in America, and has enjoyed a long history of partnering with the Arboretum.  more »

Crowdsourcing the Mystery of the Sunrise Ladies

October 22, 2014 by Library Staff


Who are these ladies and where is this house? Who was the photographer?  more »

Picturing People: The Photographs of William Purdom

September 24, 2014 by Library Staff

Charcoal carriers, China

William Purdom proved a gifted portraitist, capturing for posterity a rich ethnographic record of the people from Tibetan border region.  more »

James George Frazer and The Golden Bough

August 18, 2014 by Library Staff

Golden Bough

Labyrinthine and universal in scope, The Golden Bough explores society’s relationship with its natural environment, and how cycles of nature are reflected in human ceremony and tradition.  more »

Ernest H. Wilson’s travel documents

July 29, 2014 by Library Staff

Ernest Wilson passport 1908

Official travel documents from Ernest H. Wilson’s expeditions in China from 1899-1911 provide a glimpse into some of the government paperwork which accompanied a plant collecting trip a century ago.  more »

Photographs from Nature by Arthur Irving Emerson

June 24, 2014 by Library Staff

Arthur Irving Emerson

With his images, [Arthur] Emerson is able to break down the tree into different, recognizable elements. Every page has crisp, close-up views of foliage and fruit, bark and branches, displaying identifiable pieces of each species.  more »

It's lilac time again!

April 22, 2014 by Library Staff


It takes a singular event to lay claim to a Boston tradition. In its 106th year, Lilac Sunday is an annual herald of spring at the Arnold Arboretum.  more »

Galen Clark and the Mariposa Grove

March 31, 2014 by Library Staff


While exploring the [Yosemite] area in 1857, they became the first people of European descent to see the grove of giant Sequoia trees which Clark later named the Mariposa Grove. The grove, which is now part of Yosemite National Park, contains approximately 500 Sequoia trees, some of which may be as much as 3000 years old.  more »

Ernest Henry Wilson and the Cherry Blossoms of Japan

March 10, 2014 by Library Staff

wilson cherry blossom

Ernest H. Wilson was the furthest traveled of all the Arnold Arboretum plant explorers of the early twentieth century. In 1914, it was decided that Japan would be his next destination and Mrs. Wilson and daughter Muriel Primrose would accompany him. Special attention was directed to the Japanese flowering cherries . . .  more »

Ernest Henry Wilson, Yakushima, and the Wilson stump

February 5, 2014 by Library Staff

Cryptomeria japonica Japan

Wilson returned to his base camp, and seemed in excellent spirits in spite of the damp, cold weather. Wilson explained he had spotted what he thought was an enormous cave and that they should all investigate further. The weather cleared the next morning, and in the course of their journey the party encountered what turned out to be a massive, hollowed-out Yakusugi stump. Sensing the uniqueness of the discovery, Wilson began to carefully set up his camera.  more »

Embedded Herbarium Specimens in the Library

January 15, 2014 by Library Staff


288 dried specimens, encased in hard plastic, span a huge range of taxa collected from our grounds. Leaves and twigs, seeds and pods, cones and stems, these three-dimensional objects offer a unique method of examining plant life and anatomy.  more »

Chestnuts - Celebrating Castanea, part two

December 18, 2013 by Library Staff

Castanea mollissima

Chestnut bark blight fungus (Cryphonectria parasitica, formerly Diaporthe parasitica and Endothia parasitica) first arrived in North America from Asia in the last quarter of the 19th century, probably hitching a ride on infected Japanese nursery material in the days before quarantine regulations. The disease spread rapidly to the domestic species of chestnut which had no natural resistance.  more »

Chestnuts - Celebrating Castanea, part one

December 10, 2013 by Library Staff


At this time of year, chestnuts begin appearing in grocery stores and city pushcarts draw you in with their wonderful aroma. This tree has an interesting story, from food to industry, and to its near demise. So settle back, perhaps with a cup of warm cider and a roasted chestnut or two, and learn about this fascinating food item.  more »

The Yokohama Nursery Company: Japanese Plants for Western Buyers

October 31, 2013 by Library Staff

Interior illustration from a Yokohama Nursery Company catalog

This October, we have been celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Larz Anderson Collection of Bonsai with lectures, exhibits and a very special display of eight of the oldest plants at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.  more »

The Gendered History of the Arnold Arboretum

October 22, 2013 by Library Staff

Dr Hu at Harvard 1987

Displays in the Visitor Center at the Arnold Arboretum read like a historical timeline of distinguished men who made the institution what it is today. Portraits of figures such as the Arboretum’s Founding Director, Charles Sprague Sargent, and the famous collector of East Asian and North American plants, E. H. Wilson, grace the walls alongside tales of their daring voyages and botanical accomplishments. But where are the women in the history of this living museum?  more »

Alfred Rehder, the Bradley Bibliography and BHL, oh my!

September 30, 2013 by Library Staff


In the age of unlimited connectivity, we sometimes forget that in the days before online library catalogs and databases just how vital the creation of bibliographies and lists of holdings were for the promotion of scholarship.  more »